Will Smith has been behind the plate for plenty of Walker Buehler's starts dating back to their minor league days. It doesn't take the Dodgers catcher long to know if Buehler's got the good stuff.
Within a few pitches on Saturday night, Smith was sold: This was going to be fun.
“I'm glad he's on our side," Smith said. “And I don't have to face him.”
Buehler had another masterful mound performance, taking a no-hitter into the eighth inning as Los Angeles beat the skidding Arizona Diamondbacks 9-3.
The 26-year-old right-hander cruised through the Diamondbacks’ order, walking two, hitting a batter and striking out a season-best 11. He was pulled with one out in the eighth after giving up singles to David Peralta and Nick Ahmed.
“Felt like I had some gas left in the tank,” Buehler said. “But two good pieces of hitting and I'm out of there.”
Buehler (7-0) breezed through the seventh, striking out Eduardo Escobar and Christian Walker before getting Stephen Vogt to ground out. Peralta got a pitch up in the zone to start the eighth and lined a clean single into center. Buehler got a big hand from a sizable contingent of Dodgers’ fans at Chase Field in Phoenix.
“Man, I wanted that no-hitter,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “Everyone wanted it. The fastball velocity was his best in quite some time. He was working all quadrants.”
Buehler hasn't been beaten in his past 23 starts, which tied a franchise record. Kirby Higbe set the mark in 1946.
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Arizona has lost a franchise-record 16 straight and dropped 39 of its past 44 games. The Diamondbacks have the worst record in the major leagues at 20-52, and they set a major league record with their 23rd straight road loss Thursday.
The D-backs have had some rough moments during their lengthy skid. On Saturday, it was apparent that they simply ran into one of baseball's best pitchers.
“I feel like it was the combination of the fastball with the location that was very effective against us today,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said.
Matt Peacock (2-5) took the loss, giving up three runs over five innings. Kevin Ginkel and Jake Faria were both hit hard in relief, which allowed the Dodgers to build a 9-0 lead.
Smith had three hits for the Dodgers, including his eighth homer of the season. Justin Turner had three RBIs. Chris Taylor hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning.
If Buehler’s no-hitter had continued, Roberts might have had a tough decision: Buehler was already at 101 pitches when he gave up Peralta’s single, nearing his season-high of 105. Roberts said he was willing to go to 125 pitches if needed.
“I was going to ride him,” Roberts said. “The pitch count is one thing, but if you peel back the layers, it's stress. And there wasn't any stress. He was repeating his delivery, he was locating his stuff. I was going to see it through. I wanted it for him.”
The Dodgers’ last no-hitter was May 4, 2018, when four pitchers combined on a 4-0 win over the San Diego Padres. Buehler started that game but was pulled after throwing 93 pitches. It was just his third big-league start.
Diamondbacks catcher Carson Kelly broke his right wrist when he was hit by Buehler’s pitch in the second inning. Kelly had been one of few bright spots for Arizona this season, hitting .260 with an .845 OPS in 50 games. The 26-year-old was acquired from St. Louis in exchange for Paul Goldschmidt prior to the 2019 season.
Kelly was initally hopeful that he'd avoided serious injury but that wasn't the case.
“I had the initial movement, I had the strength,” Kelly said. “As time went on it kept getting worse and worse.”
Dodgers: OF Cody Bellinger (hamstring) is expected to be activated off the injured list as early as Monday when the Dodgers face the San Diego padres. ... 1B Max Muncy (oblique) could also see action in the Padres series. He is not expected to have a rehabilitation assignment. … SS Corey Seager (hand) is expected to start a rehab assignment sometime next week.
Diamondbacks: LHP Madison Bumgarner (shoulder) is scheduled to pitch a bullpen session Tuesday.
The two teams will conclude their three-game series on Sunday with the Dodgers sending RHP Tony Gonsolin (0-0, 3.38 ERA) to the mound. The Diamondbacks will start LHP Alex Young (2-4, 3.86).